PSN wants pharmacies as COVID-19 vaccination centres
As Nigeria await its first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has recommended that the federal government should consider the use of community pharmacies as centre for vaccine administration in order to reach the larger number of Nigerians
Speaking during a press conference in Lagos held recently, PSN President, Pharm. Sam Ohuabunwa declared that given the scientific evidence available as well as professional competences in the science and technology of vaccine formulation protocols, that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for Nigerians.
He however bemoaned that even with the availability of funds and facilities, Nigeria cannot produce vaccines due to the non-passage of the Pharmacy Bill into law.
Ohuabunwa said, without the passage of the Pharmacy Bill, the World Health Organisation, WHO, cannot approve Nigeria’s production of vaccines and medicines which could be exported to other parts of the world.
According to him, " beyond the fact that we do not have the facility to produce, even if we put out all the facility to produce the vaccines, without the Pharmacy Bill being passed, the WHO will not grant us the authority to produce the vaccines. The Pharmacy Bill is like a tweak to the production of vaccines in the country.
"It has happened before, maybe before the WHO put out some exigencies in their protocols to make sure that every vaccine production process and safety proof is intact. As at today, Nigeria cannot produce vaccines without passing the Pharmacy Bill which is gathering dust at the National Assembly.
"So if the media do not want another pandemic to catch us unawares and start propounding theories of who wants to depopulate Africa, then, please, ask the government where the Pharmacy Bill is.
"If the Pharmacy Bill is passed into law today, I can bet you that, we would give the government a proposal that will make Nigeria produce a vaccine in less than 15 months. We have the science and technological know-how as well as the industry know-how. So, that is the challenge, the issue of infrastructure and poor funding is secondary. So let the Pharmacy Bill be passed," the PSN president said.
Ohuabunwa further added that, when passed into law, the Pharmacy bill would improve all aspects of the profession and help develop the country’s capacity to produce World Health Organisation WHO-certified facilities, medicines and vaccines especially for COVID-19.
Ohuabunwa said the Bill will enable NAFDAC to do the due diligence adding that, most drugs produced in the country cannot be shipped abroad due to the absence of pharmacy law.
Ohuabunwa dismissed various conspiracy theories against the vaccines urged Nigerians to accept the vaccines when they become available, calling for caution in the use of Ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.
Commenting, the National Publicity Secretary, Pharm. Ijeoma Okey-Ewurum, pointed out that, vaccination should be seen as public health good and should be delivered to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
She noted that, the place of pharmacists who are the custodian of drugs was fundamental as participation of pharmacists must be secured to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccinations and generation of data for much needed local vaccine research.